The Best Laid Plans

I started this year with the best of intentions, I was going to  watch less tv and instead I was going to blog more, make more and be generally more productive.  Clearly I haven’t been doing as well as I would have liked to!

I decided to put my clothes sewing on hold for a couple of months because I was feeling fat and uncomfortable in the clothes I had so reckoned a couple of months were needed to see if I could get myself a bit fitter and less bloated before I started. After a hellish few weeks cutting out sugar (my biggest vice!) I am feeling a lot less bloated so it’s time to get back on track!

I’m going to try to tackle the Archer Shirt by Grainline Studio.  I have had the pattern since the start of the year and I’ve read through the sewalong about a hundred times now so I feel as happy as I’m ever going to be about starting into it.  When I printed the pattern out I think I got a bit overwhelmed by the number of pattern pieces and got worried about how many opportunities there are to make mistakes but I find the best way to learn is to do so here I go!

I’m using a black slub linen look cotton that has been in my stash forever.  I had originally planned to make a skirt with it but I realised that I really don’t wear skirts that often and I loved the material too much to make something that I wasn’t going to wear all the time.  Time to get cutting I suppose!

Black slub cotton

Black slub cotton for my Archer – hopefully it will work out ok!

Have you got any projects that you just haven’t been able to get round to?  Let me know if you have any motivational tips to get you back into the swing of sewing!

 

Sewing Goals

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Ever since I started to learn to sew I’ve wanted to sew my own clothes. I’ve managed to successfully make a couple of things but I’m not confident in my clothes sewing skills despite being reasonably confident on my sewing machine.

This year I am determined to expand my me made wardrobe and to expand my dressmaking skills so here are my sewing goals for 2016.

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Archer Shirt by Grainline Studio
I love shirts but they gape. They all bloody gape at the front! The thought that I might be able to sew my own, non-gapey shirt to wear is too exciting. So far I’ve been put off by all the construction… Eek! So much sewing goes into a good shirt. Plus buttonholes – I’ve never really conquered my fear of sewing actual buttonholes so I’m just going to go for it and hope for the best! It really helps that Jen from Grainline Studio has got a brilliant sew along for the Archer Shirt on her blog. I’ve already read through it all and I’m going to try to follow it step by step instead of trying to muddle through the pattern alone.

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Lilou Dress from Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes
I had planned to make this dress last year for my brother-in-law’s wedding but I got scared by all the altering it would have needed to fit me well. I’m very short waisted, big busted and have a large tummy in front compared to the rest of me (thanks kids – you totally ruined my stomach muscles!). This year I have a couple more weddings t attend and I am determined that my Marvel print fabric will be made into a dress for me to wear to them!

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Jenna Cardi by Muse Patterns
Of course if I’m making a dress I’ll need a cardi or two to go with it and this is my perfect pattern. I’m not much copy at knitting or I’d be doing that so sewing lovely cardi with a knit fabric is a good comprise. I’ve yet to find my perfect fabric for this but I’ll get there!

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Hudson Pants by True Bias Patterns
I mostly live in cosy, easy to wear clothes so these have been on my mind for a while. They look like the perfect bottoms for mooching about in or for running about after the kiddos.

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Jasper Sweater by Paprika Patterns
This is another one that has been on my mind for a while. I have plans to make this with a cosy fleece to cuddle up in come next autumn/winter. I really would love one now, but I think I have to be realistic about when I’m actually going to make all of these clothes!

2016 is going to be my year of sewing.  I have such a ridiculous stash of fabric that is languishing waiting for the right project. Well, this year I’m just going to sew. My evenings are now all about less TV and more creativity!

Have you any sewing resolutions for the year ahead? Are you going to make any of my “must sew”  patterns in 2016?  I’d love to hear from you!

(None of those photos are mine btw, all photo credits to the creators of the patterns!)

Sewing Softies

For most of 2015 I was a bad blogger. I had so little brain power that managing to get crafty was a trial, writing about it was impossible!

This year I’m determined to be different! I’ve realised that the biggest thing holding me back is the dreaded goggle box so this year I’m going on a bit of a TV diet. My evenings are for reading and making, with the odd film thrown in for good measure!

Already this year I’ve managed to pick up an unfinished plan and get going with it! I found this book hidden in the depths of my sewing room.
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Sewn Toy Tales by Melly & Me. I bought it when I was still very new to sewing and I was determined that I would hone my skills making beautiful soft toys for my children. Unfortunately, always reaching a bit further that I should, I decided to start with one of the more complicated patterns in the book. I discovered it was all a bit too fiddly for me and I put the book away and forgot about it.

I was having a bit of a clear out before Christmas (my sewing room had to be fit to accommodate some guests over the festive season) and discovered loads of books I forgot I even had. Sewn Toy Tales came back into my life just in time for me to sew up a present for my niece’s birthday. January birthdays are hard to remember to fit in after the craziness of Christmas so I’m really glad I found this book in time to sew her something!

I had planned since I bought the book to make Mabelle the Mouse for her so once I hoked out some suitably lovely floral fabric I got cracking. And then I promptly realised why I hadn’t made her the mouse before! Everything is on such a small scale that it was so fiddly! The tiny arms and feet were so hard to sew well. Then once they were made I realised I had over stuffed them so machine sewing them into place was incredibly difficult. There was a lot of hand sewing done at the end to make sure everything was well secured. I’ll definitely do the next one better!

I love how she turned out though and my niece was delighted. Apparently this mouse has been renamed Squeak and is very happy in her new home!

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Squeak!

I’m looking forward to making more toys this year. It was a great way to improve on my sewing skills. I’d advise any novice sewists that this book is great, there’s loads of really useful information in it and the patterns are beautiful but start with the easier patterns at the start of the book so you don’t put yourself off!!

I have another kiddo’s birthday this January(on the 7th!) so I better get cracking on another pattern!

Triangle Pouch!

Having a nosey on Pinterest the other night I came across triangle pouches! This was a total revelation to me, they are super cute and not too much different in construction to the wee zipper pouches I had made before.

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With help from this tutorial from Crafty Gemini I put together this cute pouch.

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Triangle Pouch Interior

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I could definitely refine my technique a bit. I’d like the top of the zip to look a bit tidier but I think it didn’t turn out too badly for a first go! I can see lots of these in my future, in lots of different sizes for holding all my bits and pieces.

This is a great pattern for using up scrappy bits of leftover fabric. I used two 9×5 inch pieces of polycotton. I interfaced the exterior with firm interfacing and medium interfacing on the interior to give it enough body to stand up without adding too much bulk. I used a 7 inch closed end zip but the next time I think I’ll be a bit more careful with the placement. It would look a bit better with the zip top at the top of the pouch rather than centering the fabric on the zip, which is what I did.

All in all a very versatile method for making cute pouches and I can’t wait to make some more!

DIY Dress Form

After my marvellous success with the beautifully fitting Jade Skirt I decided that maybe it was time to make a foray into dressmaking.

One of the things that has put me off in the past is that I’m a totally bizarre size. I’m not much taller than 5ft but I have long legs for my short stature. Because of that I’m incredibly short waisted and I’m also blessed (?!) with a larger than average bust. Throw into the mix that I’m a bit overweight and that I have no stomach muscles (one invasive abdominal operation and three pregnancies will do that to a person!). You get the picture! Off the peg clothes just don’t fit me.

This really put me off trying to make my own clothes. I was too worried about wasting money on fabric that would never make it into something wearable. I didn’t think I had the skills to adjust patterns and I really couldn’t afford a dress form, no matter how much I wanted one! When I came across a tutorial on how to make my own specific dress form using duct tape I got very excited. Cue a trip to the shop for lots of duct tape, a tight top that I didn’t mind losing to the cause and one willing helper in my mum to tape me up!

After a lot of faffing about we seemed to get into the swing of things. One of the most awkward things I found was trying to cut the flippin tape. Our scissors got gummed up after a few cuts and it was really hard to keep cutting without cleaning the scissors off. Especially annoying when we discovered that working in short strips was the way to go. Lots more cutting so lots more frustration. It didn’t help that I am rather squishy and a bit lumpy bumpy in places. The whole thing would definitely have been a bit easier (and we’d have used a lot less tape!) if I was a bit skinnier!

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All that tape felt a bit Fifty Shades!

If I had half a brain I would have rechecked the tutorials before embarking on my mission to become gaffer tape’s new pin up. Tips on covering my neck would have been helpful. As it was we used spare scraps of material that were a bit unweildy. Cling film might have done a better job!

Anyway some time later we emerged mostly successful. We managed to cut the duct tape form off with only a slight injury to my trousers and I could see it was definitely holding shape, even if it did look a bit deflated. I spent the evening trying to tape it back together which was harder than I thought it would be. Definitely keep a helper handy for this if you can!

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Like me, but not!

Then I stuffed it. And I stuffed it and stuffed it and I stuffed it! Three old pillows later and a couple of copies of the Sunday Times and I had a reasonably solid form. Again a helper would be, well, helpful! I had put a clothes hanger inside my form before stuffing so I could hang it up when it was finished. Unfortunately I was a bit heavy handed when stuffing and I managed to break the top of my hanger when I was half finished. There was no way I was taking all my filling out to start again so I found an old brush shaft (thankfully my husband is as bad at throwing potentially useful rubbish out as I am!) and shoved it into my form and stuffed around it. A couple of red bricks with handy holes in the middle have been used to hold it up since I have no actual stand.

I found newspaper great for filling out the form but polyfill (raided from some old pillows) really helped smooth out all the lumps and bumps and gave a nicer shape. I cannot stress enough how much stuffing this thing took. I kept going until I literally couldn’t jam anything more in there!

I was a bit too lazy to try to make a cardboard bottom so I carefully taped it up and filled up with more polyfill. Eventually I was left with a pretty successful version of myself. The measurements all seem to be right and I found an old plant stand to put her on so she’s a bit more movable but now she’s at the same height add me which is marvellous! The whole way through my form was definitely an “it” until I finished. She’s now firmly lodged in my brain as a “her”; with those curves she couldn’t be anything else! She’s not the prettiest but she’ll do to help me get into this whole dressmaking lark. Now to figure out what to make first!

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Miss Polly was a dolly....

Suits Into Bags!

Some years ago, when I was new to this whole sewing lark, I was browsing the Internet for ideas. I needed easy sewing projects that wouldn’t break the bank. One of the most inspiring I found was this clutch bag made from the sleeve of an old suit jacket. I loved the look of it and I knew my dad had an old sports jacket that I could cannibalise. Eventually I didn’t make the clutch but I made this bag instead.

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My first bag!

This was the first bag I ever made and I pretty much just cobbled it together with no knowledge of bag making but it turned out really nicely and it’s still one of my favourite ever makes. Unfortunately I gave it away as a Christmas present because I really did love it!

My sister was also quite enamoured with this bag so when she had an old suit that she loved but it no longer fit she came to me to see if I could work some baggy magic. She sourced some awesome fabric with camera film for the lining (from Plush Addict if you’re interested but long out of stock!) and I got to work. I wish I had thought to take a photo of the suit before I chopped it up but it was from Reiss and was something like this.

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Unfortunately I was very pregnant when I said I’d make this bag and in the intervening year and a half I’ve been a bit busy and a bit distracted! However now I’m sewing again and with her birthday on the horizon I thought really I should get a move on and get her bag finished.

The bag was a pretty basic design. The shape was more or less the same as my Totally Reversible Tote, although I put a recessed zip in the top and a flush zip pocket in the lining.

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Zips!

I love the recessed zip. You can have the bag closed and secure but you can still see the awesome lining! I’m definitely going to incorporate this feature into my future makes. It was a little fiddly but worth it, I think!

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Bag closed, lovely lining on display!

The front of the bag is made from the front of the jacket. You can see some of the lovely tailoring that I have tried to keep as some nice detailing on the bag. The back was taken from the legs. There wasn’t really enough fabric in the back of the suit jacket for the back of the bag. Plus there were pleats, many panels and I manage to rip the wrong seams! There really isn’t enough fabric in a size 10 suit jacket!

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The devil's in the details!

I made an adjustable shoulder strap made from the legs of the suit. I’m regretting not interfacing the strap a bit but I suspect I might be the only person to notice! Thankfully everything came together quite nicely. I now have one WIP dealt with and all the associated guilt of not finishing a job for someone is gone! Plus my sister now has a pretty snazzy bag. Everyone’s a winner!

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The finished article. I'm pretty pleased with myself!

Now onto my next bag. I have some suit jackets just waiting to be sliced into but I have some bunny pouches to finish first!

Sewing Love

I forgot just how much I love sewing! Up until recently I had been concentrating on crochet (which I really love too!) and sewing had taken a bit of a back seat in my crafting life. I think a combination of small children and a very cold sewing room have seen me curled up more and more in the living room with a hook and a ball of wool. Crochet thankfully doesn’t take up much room and more importantly it’s quiet so it’s really easy to get on with in the same room as a sleeping babby! Anyway the point was that I haven’t had my sewing machine out as much over the last eighteen months (since Babby was born) as I would have liked.

With the advent of my friends’ new fabric & crafty shop I’ve had the incentive to get my bum in gear and start sewing again! As I posted before I love making bags but recently I’ve been super inspired to try my hand at dressmaking too. In the past I’ve cobbled together a few bits & pieces. Easy maternity clothes were a firm favourite! I love wearing stretchy clothes so getting to grips with knits had been very high on my list of priorities.

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Stretchy!

Next on my list is possibly the Camellia top from Sewing Avenue. I think I’m going to try it out with some cotton poplin in grey with white stars. However the invisible zip foot I ordered has just arrived so I might tackle the Clemence skirt from Tilly Walnes book Love At First Stitch. I have a nice black linen look cotton for that. Hmm… Decisions decisions! I’m so indecisive! What would you go for first? Keep your eyes peeled because all my makes will be appearing here to keep me motivated to sew more and hopefully sew better.